Death of Bin Laden does not end conflict

Story by Emily Gresbrink

On Sunday evening, Osama Bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the United States with the assistance of Pakistani intelligence. President Barack Obama released a statement just after 10:30 p.m. CDT and said the words millions of Americans had been waiting nearly 10 years to hear.

“Good evening. Tonight I can report to the American people and the world that the U.S. has conducted an operation that has killed Osama bin Laden,” he said. Minutes later, he added, “Justice has been done.”

But has it?

Obama made the call last week for a group of Navy Seals to make the strike on Sunday. CNN called it a “dramatic historic announcement” (I’m not going to disagree; did you hear all that emotional rhetoric? It was insanity!)

Social networks flooded with tweets and status updates, both comedic and serious, as the world rejoiced. However, something incredibly critical in this situation has been forgotten that we, as both citizens of the United States and of a global community, cannot forget: Just because Osama bin Laden is dead does not mean the conflict is over.

“Killing Osama is the end of the war on terror,” a columnist on CNN said.

This is not true at all. A war or conflict cannot end with one bullet. It can be started with one, but never finished. Conflict in and of itself requires resolving; consider the assassination of bin Laden the climax of a long plot. It could be all downhill from here.

The new war ends when our troops come home, treaties are signed and we walk parallel to our enemies rather than cross paths. The conflict stops when both sides find a middle ground and draw a line in the sand. Our troops are still not home, nothing has been signed, and we are still in conflict with Middle Eastern countries.

A milestone has been laid, this is absolutely and positively true, but the war is not over. We have to keep this in mind as the American flags wave over, the singing of our national anthem and the roaring crowds in Washington.

As Obama said himself, Americans did not choose this fight and we do indeed know the cost of war. I agree with him when he said America can do whatever it sets it mind to. But now, we need to set our mind to an important matter.

There is backlash here that we haven’t been paying much attention to. Yes, celebration is important and well-deserved, but as of Sunday night, what did Obama say? It was mentioned briefly in his statement (and by briefly, I literally mean it was no more than 50 words, give or take a few). “There’s no doubt that al-Qaeda will continue attacks.” That’s all the acknowledgement it got.

Despite all the respect I have for the military forces involved, the only people talking logic and military tactic here were opinion columnists and political analysts. What about the forces running it; what do they think will happen? What should Americans be prepared for? By having U.S. forces attack the leader of al-Qaeda, we have ticked off a whole lot of potentially dangerous people. Even if the forces in numbers are weakened, the forces of terror still exist in the world.

This is the key: we cannot continue to celebrate fervently without keeping in mind that the threat has been raised and our guard must stay up. In ways, this could keep troops in the Middle East for much longer than planned.

I’m sure by the time this is in print, things will have changed. But in this moment, in these few hours and days after the death of a key terrorist, I want to know what steps will be taken. I want to know how I can protect myself and be aware. I want to know if it’s safe to fly, safe to travel at all and what this means for our troops overseas serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

The chaos is sure to have calmed by today’s print issue, but if America can really do whatever it sets its mind to, it’s time we set our minds to the mindset of planning and caution. I encourage you all to stay informed on this issue and remain diligent in following the changes and updates. You, regardless of your citizenship, were affected by the attacks on Sept. 11 nearly 10 years ago, and sadly, the threat remains that something equal in scale could happen again.

A situation like this could spark another tragedy because of the scale and importance of the person we killed on Sunday night. We need to put our minds into the game: what will happen with the troops and U.S. security next? Justice will only be served when the war is over, and it’s not over yet.